Watershed Stewards Recognized Through the Doug Cross Stewardship Recognition Program

Muskoka Watershed Council is pleased to recognize a number of watershed stewards, as selected by their respective organizations, through the Doug Cross Stewardship Recognition Program in 2022.

The Doug Cross Stewardship Recognition Program helps local community and lake organizations across Muskoka’s watersheds recognize the dedication, effort, and good stewardship activities of their members. Organizations register in January to receive a Recognition Package to award to a deserving member of their organization. Each Recognition Package contains a Certificate of Recognition and a $50 gift card to Hidden Habitat native plant nursery in Kilworthy!

Doug Cross Stewardship Recognition Program Logo

2022 Recipients

Bracebridge Horticultural Society | THOMAS & ANNE KNIGHT

Thomas and Anne Knight have spent 30 years at their Falkenburg Road property on 56 acres that once belonged to Thomas’s grandfather. He built a one kilometer long boardwalk along the creek and across a swampy area out of environmentally-safe recycled boards. This provides year-round access to the area for walking and skiing. A creek runs along one side of the property and has a variety of native plants. Thomas does have a lawn but it is kept well back from the waterfront with little to no runoff.

They plant and maintain a fine variety of native plants and, in turn, enjoy a great number of pollinators (lots of bees & butterflies this year). They have eight recycle bins, the contents of which are used to make compost and mulch for their newly constructed greenhouse. Wood ash is collected from their wood-burning stove to be scattered in the forest. Leaves are mulched and reused on the beds, and damaged trees are either cut up for firewood or milled into boards for their own use. They have a long driveway but no outdoor lights except a porch light that is only turned on as needed. A great spot to enjoy the dark sky!

Thomas and Anne volunteer for the Bracebridge Horticultural Society. They also volunteer and make items (from recycled material) for outdoor education at Macaulay Public School. They have built and helped fill raised beds, as well. Anne looks after a flower bed outside the Alzheimer’s office and helps garden at the Port Carling United Church. Thomas has saved many trees from along the roadway and replanted them on a lake lot. Thomas and Anne built a replica greenhouse out of recycled materials in which they grow much of their own produce.

These people are fine examples of wonderful stewards of their own land and models for the children at Macaulay Public School, and indeed all who know them.

Bruce Lake Family Association | PAUL HUTCHINSON

Paul has been Bruce Lake’s water steward for over a decade. He manages our water testing program and provides education on how to manage the quality of our most precious community asset – the quality of the water in our lake. Further he is an exemplar to other residents on the lake in terms of the management of his own property.

Fairy Lake Association (Environmental) | HELEN AUSTIN & FAMILY

The Austin Family, Fairy Lake Association
The Austin Family, Fairy Lake Association

The Austin family’s small authentic 1944 original summer cottage is now partly surrounded by million dollar homes. This property’s shoreland stands out. The Austin family have always strived to preserve the original shoreland, including all native aquatic vegetation and wildlife, always thinking first of the health of Fairy Lake before anything else.

Helen, at age 95, can regularly be seen walking to downtown shops, church, and participating in community events.

Fox Lake Association | DAVID WHITE

David White, Fox Lake Association
David White, Fox Lake Association

David has been the Lake Steward for the Fox Lake Association for many years. He is committed to maintaining water quality and preserving the shoreline vegetation around Fox Lake, with his own shoreline setting an example of a natural riparian zone. David collects and submits water samples to the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks and reports the results to association members, organizes volunteers and coordinates our annual Benthic Monitoring event, provides relevant educational materials and investigates reports of water quality issues raised by residents. David is an active member of the Fox Lake Association Executive Committee, and we appreciate his many years of voluntary service as our Lake Steward.

Friends of Muskoka | LAURIE THOMSON

Laurie is the founder and President of Friends of Muskoka and has worked tirelessly to protect the environment.

Lake of Bays Association | DIANE CROCKER

Diane Crocker has been selected by the Lake of Bays Association (LOBA) for the Doug Cross Stewardship Recognition Program Award.

Concerned about the shoreline erosion on her property, Diane reached out in 2021 to MWC and the Natural Edge program for help. Through that program Diane had a planting plan drawn up and indigenous plants were later delivered. Diane went to work on planting them all herself.

The water level was quite a bit higher than when the planting plan was established making it impossible to plant along the shoreline according to the plan. Diane had to get creative and decide on alternate locations for those plants.

During August of 2021 the weather was hot and dry. Diane ensured that the young plants were watered as needed and protected from grazing deer as much as possible. Not all of the plants survived and there were areas on her property where there had been erosion that Diane has not addressed yet. She plans to source more indigenous plants to replace the ones that did not survive and to fill in other areas needing more plantings.

Diane is also very interested in water quality and actively participated in the LOBA Water Quality Steering Committee. This committee worked to review LOBA’s water testing protocols and helped to find our new Water Quality Manager, Kieran Molony, after Deb Cumming retired. Diane’s concerns and positive actions demonstrate good watershed stewardship. Her actions are helping to protect not only her shoreline but our watershed and ultimately the quality of the water in Lake of Bays.

Leonard Lake Stakeholders Association | BETTY ISBISTER

Betty became a Director on LLSA in June 2006 and has work tirelessly ever since to be betterment of the LLSA and more specifically the lake – as a Director from 2006 until sometime in 2016, and then on the water quality team ever since. Betty has participated in virtually every one of the lake health initiatives of the association over that entire timeframe and continues to contribute to the water testing and quality team to this day. She has given more than 16 years of continuous service to our lake.

Loon & Turtle Lakes Cottage Association | JIMMY & BRENDA BURKE

The Burkes have just completed a new build cottage and purposely maintained as much original vegetation and trees as possible after the new dwelling was built. They also purchased several native plants to spread around their property. They are known nature lovers that enjoy hiking our nearby trails regularly.

Muskoka Lakes Association | CHRIS & LOUISE CRAGG

Chris and Louise have been cottagers on Lake Muskoka for many years. They live in a beautiful setting with many naturalized gardens, several of them extending down to the rocky shoreline. These gardens have been designed to effectively reduce any stormwater runoff.

The Craggs have taken great care to encourage and maintain native/indigenous species and Louise frequently adds new discoveries of native plant material. Louise also provides her neighbours, as well as the local community centre, where she is the environmental chair, with information on this important initiative. She has also arranged a group tour to a garden centre which specializes in native plants.

Chris and Louise have been longtime members of the Muskoka Lakes Association and have always actively participated in the citizen science aspect of the water quality initiative. Chris is currently an MLA director and is the Chair of the Water Quality and Environment Committee. Under Chris’s direction, the program has pursued an improved scientific approach, which has benefited the watershed and provided local governments, residents and cottagers with a comprehensive annual report. This report also initiates a call to action for areas of concern. Chris was also a member of the Muskoka Watershed Advisory Group, a provincially structured group of nine individuals who worked with the province to protect the Muskoka Watershed while supporting economic growth.

The MLA is pleased to recognize Chris and Louise for their longstanding and continued commitment to the preservation of a healthy Muskoka.

Muskoka Ratepayers’ Association | PATRICIA ARNEY

Patricia was chosen because she has devoted over 20 years to promoting environmental health in activities such as: Dark sky protection, waste water issues, Moon River ‘Lake Plan’, founding member of MWC and Past-chair, member of the Muskoka River Water Management Plan Advisory Committee and the Standing Advisory Committee, member of the Muskoka Watershed Advisory Group, and a member of the IWM Community Roundtable.

As well, Patricia has written several articles for our association’s publications The Arrow and The Yearbook.

Muskoka Watershed Council | CAROLINE KONARZEWSKI

MWC Chair Peter Sale presents Caroline Konarzewski with the stewardship award.
MWC Chair Peter Sale (L) presents Caroline Konarzewski with the stewardship award

Caroline recently stepped down as a member of MWC where she represented the Lake of Bays Association since 2010. During her 12 years as a MWC member, Caroline was very active in MWC, attending MWC, Working Group and sub-committee meetings, leading numerous FrogWatch workshops, writing articles, giving presentations, providing input into educational initiatives, and being a liaison between MWC and LOBA, who has been a great supporter of MWC for many years, no doubt in part due to Caroline’s efforts. While she no longer officially sits on MWC, we know we can continue to count on her as a volunteer.

Despite all that Caroline has done for MWC, it pales in comparison to what she has done for LOBA as the Chair of their Environment Committee, including writing articles for the LOBA newsletter, implementing programs for shoreline renaturalization, FrogWatch, and invasive species, assisting with water quality monitoring, and responding to countless inquiries from LOBA members about environmental issues. Caroline is a great example of what a watershed steward should be and MWC would like to thank her for everything she has done, and continues to do, to protect watershed health.

Pine Lake Ratepayers’ Association | GEORGE BRYANT

A long-time cottager on Pine Lake, George has monitored the lake’s water temperature and levels every year. He was also responsible for taking depth soundings all over the lake. As an avid bird and animal watcher, he is the “go to guy” for information on the lake habitat. Over the last few years, George has captivated our AGM with his talks on local fish habitat and general good lake practices. George was selected without hesitation by all of the board members.


Kat and Chris were delighted to receive the recognition. When they purchased their lake property, it had previously been clear-cut. Over the years, they have let Mother Nature fully restore herself. To paraphrase Kat, “they’ve also had some free landscaping by beaver and storms” and are looking forward to using their Hidden Habitat gift card.

Six Mile Lake Cottagers’ Association | PAUL WIANCKO

Paul is the penultimate good watershed steward. 30 years ago he took charge and initiated a lake water quality testing program on Six Mile Lake. He remains to this day engaged in taking samples and tracking over time the water quality on six Georgian Bay Township lakes. He is on the board of the Severn Sound Environmental Association, has served as Six Mile Lake’s representative to the Township where he lobbies for more proactive programs for watershed stewardship, and implemented a dockside cottager education program. He is a relentless promoter of water quality assurance through good shoreline maintenance practices and lobbying for effective controls at the Township and District regarding septic field placement.

The Stewardship Recognition Program is named after Doug Cross, a former Muskoka Watershed Council member and advocate for MWC in the community. He continued his support with a generous donation to MWC upon his passing on January 25, 2020 at the age of 76. MWC is proud to name the Stewardship Recognition Program after Doug Cross as a way to encourage members of our communities to keep our watersheds beautiful.